Traci Lords

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Traci Lords
Traci Lords 2011.jpg
Lords at the QVC Red Carpet Style Party in February 2011.
Born Nora Louise Kuzma
(1968-05-07) May 7, 1968 (age 46)
Steubenville, Ohio, United States
  • Actress
  • singer
  • model
  • writer
  • producer
  • director
Years active 1984–present
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
  • Brook Yeaton (m. 1990; div. 1995)
  • Ryan Granger (m. 1999; div. 2000)
  • Jeff Gruenewald (m. 2002)
Children 1
Musical career

Traci Elizabeth Lords (born May 7, 1968) is an American actress, singer, model, writer, producer, director and former pornographic actress. Born Nora Louise Kuzma in Steubenville, Ohio, she first achieved notoriety for her underage appearances in pornographic films. She appeared in dozens of videos between 1984 and 1986 and was also featured in the September 1984 issue of Penthouse magazine.

Lords made her mainstream film debut in 1988. After she studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute and appeared in an episode of the television series Wiseguy, she was offered the leading role in the remake of Roger Corman's classic Not of This Earth. She followed with the role of Wanda Woodward in the John Waters teen comedy, Cry-Baby (1990), which established her as a legitimate actress. Her other acting credits include the television series MacGyver, Married... with Children, Tales from the Crypt, Roseanne, Melrose Place, Profiler, Gilmore Girls and Will & Grace.

During the early 1990s, Lords decided to focus on her musical career. After her song "Love Never Dies" was featured on the soundtrack to the film Pet Sematary Two (1992), she was featured on the Manic Street Preachers song "Little Baby Nothing". Her debut studio album, 1000 Fires, was released in 1995. The lead single "Control" peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs, appeared on the soundtrack to the film Mortal Kombat (1995) and was certified double platinum. Lords returned to music in 2011 with the release of her single "Last Drag", which peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

In 2003, Lords published her autobiography, Traci Lords: Underneath It All. The book received generally positive reviews and made The New York Times Best Seller list.

Early life[edit]

Lords as a freshman in high school, 1983

Nora Louise Kuzma was born in Steubenville, Ohio, the daughter of Patricia (née Briceland) and Louis Kuzma. Her mother has Irish ancestry and her father has Ukrainian-Russian ancestry.[1] Her stage name is said to be from the first name of her high school best friend Traci and the last name of her favorite actor from Hawaii Five-O, Jack Lord[2] or a tribute to Katharine Hepburn's character Tracy Lord from The Philadelphia Story. She was raped at the age of ten.[3] At 12, she fled from her abusive, alcoholic father to Lawndale, California, with her mother and three sisters. Her mother's new boyfriend, Roger, was a cocaine dealer who molested her.[2] In 1983, she began attending Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California.

Pornography career[edit]

At age 15, Nora dropped out of high school and was living with her mother's ex-boyfriend, Roger. Posing as her stepfather, he helped her respond to classified ads requesting models. Using a false driver's license ID provided by Roger's girlfriend that stated she was 20 rather than 15,[4] she started in the porn industry with Jim South at the World Modeling Agency in Sherman Oaks, under the name Kristie Elizabeth Nussman.[2]

She quickly ventured into adult movies. Her first movie was What Gets Me Hot!, followed by Those Young Girls and Talk Dirty to Me Part III, all made in the first half of 1984. Shortly afterward, Nora (now calling herself Traci Lords) was modeling for widely distributed adult magazines, most notably Penthouse, in the same September 1984 issue that exposed Miss America 1984, Vanessa Williams. By the time she was 18, she had appeared in 100 adult films; however, Lords argued in her autobiography that about 80 of those films were composed from leftover and re-edited footage from 21 of her original films.[5]

In late May 1986, around three weeks after her 18th birthday, authorities discovered she had been underage while making all but one of her pornographic movies, took her into protective custody, and provided her with a lawyer. The owners of her movie agency and X-Citement Video, Inc. were arrested (See United States v. X-Citement Video.) The ensuing prosecution against the agencies cost the pornographic film and distribution industry millions of dollars, as they were obliged by law to remove hundreds of thousands of her videotapes, films and magazines from store shelves to avoid the risk of prosecution for trafficking in child pornography. She was able to film underage in France by forging herself a fake 18 year-old French national ID card.[6]

In her autobiography, Traci Lords: Underneath It All (2003), Lords suggested hypocrisy on the part of the movie producers and the news media, arguing the porn industry actually got richer from the publicity of the scandal, even as they complained of losing money after destroying her illegal movies. Lords felt she was also exploited by the reporters, who used censored stills from her unlawful films. Lords herself was never charged with a crime. Instead, the agents and producers who accepted her false IDs were charged, and people affiliated with the films in question experienced legal troubles for years.

Lords received a salary for her appearances in X-rated movies. According to her autobiography, she received $35,000 as total salary for all of those movies, including the $5,000 for her appearance in Penthouse.

For her last few porn films, she and her boyfriend formed the Traci Lords Company, where he co-produced and directed the movies. Lords received a smaller salary, but also received part of the rights of these movies.

Only one of her adult porn films, Traci, I Love You, videotaped and produced in Paris, France, took place after her 18th birthday, making it the only one legally available in the United States. (However, in non-US jurisdictions where the age restriction on pornography is lower, as well as over the Internet, her earlier films continue to be distributed.) While most of her pre-18 films were removed permanently from distribution in the United States, several were simply re-edited to remove Lords' scenes entirely (such as "Kinky Business" and "New Wave Hookers"), or in a few cases, had new footage shot with a different actress playing her part (as in "Talk Dirty to Me Part III", where her character was essential to the storyline).[citation needed]

In early 1987, nearly a year after her arrest, Lords sold her rights to Traci, I Love You for $100,000. This action led to claims that Lords herself had tipped off the authorities to gain immunity from prosecution, while profiting from the movie.[5] Lords denies this notion in her autobiography, and claims she was reluctant to sell the rights, since at that time she was trying to become a mainstream actress, and wanted no older movies still available. Also, she wrote that she knew nothing of people's real names or who produced which film, and did not provide such information to the FBI. The FBI agents "appeared annoyed" when she could not provide the information they wanted. She said the agents claimed to have monitored her for three years.[5]

Government prosecutors declared Lords was a victim of a manipulative industry, maintaining she was drugged and made to do non-consensual acts. But industry insiders, like Ron Jeremy, Ginger Lynn and Tom Byron, say they never saw her use drugs, and insist that she was always fully aware of her actions. One of her co-workers from that time, Christy Canyon, has gone so far as to say about Lords' autobiography: "I think her book could have been fabulous, except that she was lying throughout the whole thing."[7]

While Lords decries the pornographic film industry, she continues to use the stage name she gave herself as a minor, and ultimately made it her legal name. She wrote, "I chose to stop running from it. Instead, I won it, legally changing my name to Traci Elizabeth Lords. That's who I was, and that's who I was going to be."[5] Lords stated she is not trying to deny her past, telling Oprah Winfrey: "I found you can run, but you cannot hide."[8]

Post-pornography career[edit]

Lords moved into mainstream films, and has appeared in several movies. At age 18, Lords began studying method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute,[9] and soon afterward, starred in Not of This Earth, a remake of Roger Corman's 1957 film.[10] Then in 1990, she appeared in John Waters' Cry-Baby, playing the role of Wanda Woodward. Other movies on her resume include Shock 'Em Dead, Blade, Tommyknockers, Black Mask 2: City of Masks and Chump Change. The last won her a Best Actress Award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. She has also made cameo appearances in Serial Mom, Nowhere, Virtuosity, and Panic Button in 2007 (made for TV).

In addition to movies, Lords has also made many appearances in television series, including Wiseguy in the episode "Date With an Angel", Married... with Children, MacGyver, Highlander: The Series, Tales from the Crypt, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Gilmore Girls, and Will & Grace among others, along with recurring roles in First Wave, Profiler, Melrose Place and Roseanne. She made her musical debut on the Manic Street Preachers' U.K. Top 40 hit "Little Baby Nothing", which features on the album, "Generation Terrorists".[11] On this song, Lords sings a duet with leading Manics singer, James Dean Bradfield, but did not appear in the music video. She appeared in the music videos of other performers and groups. In 1995, Lords made her solo debut, in collaboration with Juno Reactor and Jesus Jones' Mike Edwards, called 1000 Fires. The Juno Reactor-produced first single "Control" reached No. 2 on the Billboard Dance Charts.[12] The song "Control" was featured in the 1995 movie adaptation of the game Mortal Kombat, where it was played as an instrumental. She said in 2001 she had auditioned for the 1992 film Army of Darkness. "I didn't get the part but I clicked with [star] Bruce [Campbell]", with whom she would later work as a guest star on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.[13]

In 2003, she published her autobiography, Traci Lords: Underneath It All (ISBN 0-06-050820-5), which made The New York Times bestseller list.[14] In December of that year, Lords wrote and directed a short film with Fox Searchlab entitled "Sweet Pea", shown at film festivals in 2005.[citation needed] The film is loosely inspired by an experience recounted in her autobiography, and involves a teenage girl who finds herself overcome with doubt after being raped by her boyfriend. In 2004, Lords recorded the independently produced double A-side "Sunshine."[citation needed]

Lords appeared in Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Lords' character in the former is loosely based on herself, but she refused to appear nude.[citation needed] She also starred in the 2009 low-budget science fiction film Princess of Mars.

Personal life[edit]

In October 2007 at age 39, Lords gave birth to a son, Joseph Gunnar, her first child with her husband of five years, Jeff Lee.[15]





  • "Control" (1994)
  • "Fallen Angel" (1995)
  • "Sunshine" (2004)
  • "You Burn Inside of Me" (2004)
  • "What Cha Gonna Do" (2004)
  • "Walking In L.A." (2004)
  • "Last Drag" (2011)
  • "He's My Bitch" (2012)


  • Nicolas Barbano: Verdens 25 hotteste pornostjerner (Rosinante, Denmark 1999) ISBN 87-7357-961-0: Features a chapter on Traci Lords.
  • Steve Rag (= Tim Greaves): Norma K. nr. 1-2 and Nora K. nr. 3-6 (England 1990–1992): Traci Lords-fanzine
  • Steve Rag (= Tim Greaves): The Nora K. Kompendium (Media Publications, England 1996): The best from Norma K./Nora K.
  • Brad Linaweaver (pub): Traci Lords – Incomparable (Mondo Cult, 2009) Interview and article.
  • Suzanne Somers (ed): Wednesday's Children: Adult Survivors of Abuse Speak Out (Putnam Adult, 1992): Features a chapter on Traci Lords.
  • Frank C. Naylor El cine X underground. Llevándolo al límite, 2009 Ed.: Lulu

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Krajicek, David Traci Lords—The Crime Library, The Crime Library, retrieved June 12, 2006.
  3. ^ "Traci Lords: Underneath It All – book review". January 27, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Krajicek, David. "A Porn Star Is Born". Retrieved December 7, 2008. Roger had provided Nora with fake identification that added 5 years to her age. 
  5. ^ a b c d Lords, Traci Elizabeth. Traci Lords: Underneath It All. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
  6. ^ Ecrans – Traci Lords en mode mineure
  7. ^ Gene Ross (September 25, 2003). "Christy Canyon: I Bent Over and Something Made Its Way Down There". AdultFYI. Archived from the original on Sep 27, 2007. Retrieved July 23, 2007. 
  8. ^ Oprah. A Porn Star Gone Straight: The Traci Lords Story
  9. ^ Jung, K. Elan (November 4, 2010). "Sexual Trauma: A Challenge Not Insanity". The Hudson Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-9831448-0-X 
  10. ^ Weinberg, Marc (July 1988). "The Return of Traci Lords". Orange Coast Magazine 14 (7): 192–195 
  11. ^ James McLaren. "Wales Music: Manic Street Preachers' Generation Terrorists: Traci Lords, guest vocalist". BBC. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 159. 
  13. ^ "Traci Lords". (chat transcript), Sci Fi Channel. January 25, 2001. Archived from the original on July 29, 2003. 
  14. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller List: Hardcover Nonfiction, The New York Times, August 31, 2003". New York. August 31, 2003. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  15. ^ Traci Lords welcomes a son : Celebrity Baby Blog

External links[edit]